Along for the Ride: Anywhere is Possible
Immediately following the solar eclipse of 2017, I set off from Portland, Oregon, to return to my apartment in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which had now been unoccupied for close to six months. That’s a long time to be away from a residence that you’re still paying rent for! Though I was still doing some billable work, I wasn’t making enough money to afford to travel in the Jeep, and to continue to pay for my unoccupied apartment. Something had to give, and I was determined to figure things out and get back on track.
It had taken me five months to travel to Oregon, from Pennsylvania. Since I had traveled in such short hops over such a long span of time, it didn’t feel like I had traveled very far at all. However, the return trip was a different story. It was my mission to go directly home; no side-trips or adventures, just a straight shot, driving for as long as I could during the day, and then stopping at rest areas to get a little bit of sleep each night. This cross-country sprint was wholly unpleasant, and saps the joy right out of the concept of a road-trip. All you see is highway, for days. You’re not experiencing places, you just have one goal: to arrive at your destination. You enter a focused, trance-like state that is almost meditative in nature. I believe that’s the brain’s way of surviving such a mind-numbing journey. It’s like when your computer enters sleep mode. It’s still on, and it’s still functioning, but all processes shut down until you need them again. I started driving from Portland at midday on August 21st, 2017, and arrived back at my apartment on the 24th, in the early afternoon. I filled the tank 12 times, and my Jeep with the 35” tires, automatic transmission, and Pentastar 3.6, had a range of roughly 260 miles per fill-up.
Walking back into my apartment after having been gone (sleeping in the Jeep) for the better part of a year was the most surreal thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.It was my home. This was my kitchen. My living room. My sofa. Still soft. Hot shower. Toilet flushes. Turned on the ceiling fans and watched them quietly twirl. My bed was even more comfortable than it was before I had left. I had a TV. I could watch Netflix or a movie. There was a strange novelty to all of the things that had been commonplace for my entire life. I liked it… and for what must’ve been a week, I was perfectly content there.
Throughout my travels, I had produced a weekly YouTube series, which was a 20-30 minute compilation of all of my experiences each week. I had started out with no followers. I hadn’t marketed it. I didn’t even aspire to be a “YouTuber”. I just published the content every week, and eventually people started following along. I became passionate about it. I loved working the camera as I would collect experiences, and then piece together the footage to tell a story. It was very raw; very real. It felt like I had thrown in the towel and returned home just as this path as a content producer was starting to unfold at my feet. The whole reason I set off in the first place, many months ago, was to embark on a spiritual journey; to find out who I am, what I want to do, and where I belong. In a way, the journey itself had unexpectedly become the destination. I couldn’t shake the feeling that by being back home, in my apartment, I was doing myself a disservice. I was still struggling with money, and I was looking for jobs… which felt like stumbling around in the dark. A few months had passed. During this time, I considered my options. If I were to get rid of my apartment and put my belongings in storage, it would be viable to continue my journey. Perhaps that’s what I should do.
In November of 2017, that’s exactly what I did. I might’ve been more apprehensive had I not just spent most of the year living in my Jeep, traveling, and doing just fine, save for some financial challenges which would be alleviated by eliminating a rent payment. The apartment was a safety net. It had always been a place to fall back to if my experiment with a mobile, Jeep-based lifestyle had failed. Now, that safety net is gone, anywhere is possible.